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Thread: scale accuracy

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    scale accuracy

    Variation in a charge can be bad...

    Its easy to say expensive can be better, but im curious is that digital scales from RCBS and Hornady costing 150$+ that are only accurate to 1/10th of a grain being well loved.

    But the lee scale costing under 40$, is listed as being accurate to 1/20th of a grain.

    Even the redding(?) and lyman scales costing over 100$ are if listed on their websites, are the same 1/10th of a grain accurate.

    THe reloading walkthrough from RCBS says you only need to verify the accuracy of a powder dispenser every 10th time for safety once you get it set up for your charge weight and its put out 5 correct charges in a row.
    So is it absolutely necessary to worry about the cost, or the accuracy?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master


    Kraschenbirn's Avatar
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    Hmmm...don't own a digital scale and have never used one for reloading. My two RCBS balance-beam scales...one for each workbench...when properly zeroed weigh out within 1/10 gr. of each other (using calibration weights). Loading any quantity over 25-30 rounds, I set up my old Belding & Mull to drop the charges, checking every fifth round, and even heavy loads of coarse stick powders fall within +/- a tenth or so. In my case, cost isn't really relevant 'cause I've owned those scales and B&M measure for something over 25 years making consistent charge accuracy my primary concern.

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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Minuteshaver View Post
    Variation in a charge can be bad...

    Its easy to say expensive can be better, but im curious is that digital scales from RCBS and Hornady costing 150$+ that are only accurate to 1/10th of a grain being well loved.

    But the lee scale costing under 40$, is listed as being accurate to 1/20th of a grain.

    Even the redding(?) and lyman scales costing over 100$ are if listed on their websites, are the same 1/10th of a grain accurate.

    THe reloading walkthrough from RCBS says you only need to verify the accuracy of a powder dispenser every 10th time for safety once you get it set up for your charge weight and its put out 5 correct charges in a row.
    So is it absolutely necessary to worry about the cost, or the accuracy?
    I am not a Lee basher as I have some Lee dies and other items but I find the statement of that scale being accurate to 1/20 of a grain consistently a bit of a stretch.

  4. #4
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    The Lee scale is accurate.....but a complete pain to use. It weighs nothing and that is its main disadvantage. W/ digital scales you get what you pay for. Beam scales are the same way but to a lesser extent.

    I don't sweat minimal charge variations. It's why so many use powder measures. A small variation isn't going to effect anything. This is assuming you aren't working low or high in the range. At either extreme you want to verify your charge is exact.

    Everyone is going to have their opinion on how often to verify charge. I've verified the measures and dispensers that I use that I don't feel the need to check every tenth round. This is just me and is not something I will recommend to anyone. Do whatever you have to feel comfortable and load safe ammunition.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    When you talk about
    I don't sweat minimal charge variations
    - just what are you talking about? 0.1 grain? That's a 0.2 grain spread. 0.2 grain?

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Like I said, I don't sweat minimal variations. I know how accurate the measures and dispensers I use are. Plus or minus .1 grain for a pistol round isn't going to effect what I load. That variation is a rifle case w/ 50+ grains in it really won't effect anything. If I'm loading minimum or max charges then I verify each charge. Not saying anyone should do what I do. But I have enough data to feel safe w/ my reloads.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    I have a cheap digital scale. I was having a good time with it.

    Went to work one day to load 50 rounds of 7.62x54r. Moderate load of IMR 4895. Case at start was maybe 3/4 full. I was hand weighing each charge. On about case number 38 the powder spilled over because the case was full. Weighed another charge, that one spilled too.

    Ran the calibration routine, it was 26 grains off, on the BIG side.

    Needless to say I dumped all those charges.

    Put digital away. I use it once in a while, but not often. I got the old RCBS mechanical scale out and use that. It don't screw up on me unless I bump it and shift the weight.

    Still no idea why. And no I have not bought a more expensive model.

    Looked like looking at the cases like it was adding 3-4 grains with each charge. Nice smooth bell curve. I don't like tools that I can't trust.

    Only thing I can see is that trickling that last couple of grains was taking time. Longer than that little scale liked. Never seen it do it weighing bullets or anything else.

    But I won't use it for hand weighing charges.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by GhostHawk View Post
    I have a cheap digital scale. I was having a good time with it.

    Went to work one day to load 50 rounds of 7.62x54r. Moderate load of IMR 4895. Case at start was maybe 3/4 full. I was hand weighing each charge. On about case number 38 the powder spilled over because the case was full. Weighed another charge, that one spilled too.

    Ran the calibration routine, it was 26 grains off, on the BIG side.

    Needless to say I dumped all those charges.

    Put digital away. I use it once in a while, but not often. I got the old RCBS mechanical scale out and use that. It don't screw up on me unless I bump it and shift the weight.

    Still no idea why. And no I have not bought a more expensive model.

    Looked like looking at the cases like it was adding 3-4 grains with each charge. Nice smooth bell curve. I don't like tools that I can't trust.

    Only thing I can see is that trickling that last couple of grains was taking time. Longer than that little scale liked. Never seen it do it weighing bullets or anything else.

    But I won't use it for hand weighing charges.
    Neither the two digital scales I have did or do that in the last 3 years. One is a $40.00 and the other is a $130 digital.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Do you really believe that the cheapest balance beam scale is also the most accurate and/or sensitive?
    The only way to really know is to get a set of very accurate check weights (accurate to .01 grain) and run what is called a process capability on 25 of the Lee scales. That would provide a statistically valid result that would tell you how good the Lee scales are.
    I seriously doubt that Lee has ever performed a process capability on his scale. It is simple and easy to do but he might be surprised.
    You could do the same test on any other scale too. But it takes 25 scales to say that the entire population of a given brand performs at that level with any confidence. If you test one scale all you know is that one scale performs to your findings.

    When a manufacturer produces a product that meets its specifications at a 6 sigma level it means that the process yield is 99.9999998%.
    This means that the scales produced by Lee would meet his standard of 1/20 of a grain accuracy to a level of about 3 parts per million defective or less.
    This is the standard quality requirement of many companies. I would suspect Lee does not meet this standard. If they did they would make a lot more marketing claims.
    It is known that Lee scales are very sensitive but that perception seems to be enhanced by the use of very weak (and probably very cheap) dampening magnets. The result is very slow dampening of the beam oscillations making the scale slow to use and a tedious pain in the butt to use compared to other scales with better dampening.


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Process_capability_index


    Quote Originally Posted by Minuteshaver View Post
    Variation in a charge can be bad...

    Its easy to say expensive can be better, but im curious is that digital scales from RCBS and Hornady costing 150$+ that are only accurate to 1/10th of a grain being well loved.

    But the lee scale costing under 40$, is listed as being accurate to 1/20th of a grain.

    Even the redding(?) and lyman scales costing over 100$ are if listed on their websites, are the same 1/10th of a grain accurate.

    THe reloading walkthrough from RCBS says you only need to verify the accuracy of a powder dispenser every 10th time for safety once you get it set up for your charge weight and its put out 5 correct charges in a row.
    So is it absolutely necessary to worry about the cost, or the accuracy?
    Last edited by EDG; 07-27-2017 at 11:23 PM.
    EDG

  10. #10
    Boolit Master


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    If you are loading charges that would cause a problem with a one tenth grain increase, you are loading too hot. You should slow down.
    First reload: .22 Hornet. 1956.
    More at: http://reloadingtips.com/

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carrier View Post
    I am not a Lee basher as I have some Lee dies and other items but I find the statement of that scale being accurate to 1/20 of a grain consistently a bit of a stretch.
    I checked my first Lee scale with their advertised method. I weighed a small piece of paper. I wrote my name, in pencil on the paper and reweighed it. I didn't get a reading, but the pointer definately showed an increase in weight of the paper. Accuracy to "1/10th grain" is stated because that is the smallest indication on the scale, but "Kentucky Windage" can be used to easily see , measure a 1/20th grain change on any scale...
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  12. #12
    Boolit Master




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    A lot of good info in this thread. I had a Lee scale that I gave away fairly quickly, not because of accuracy, but becauseq as mentioned above the dampening magnets were too weak. You can purchase a good Lyman, Ohaus, RCBS, etc and if you want absolute accuracy contact Scott Parker, he will tune the scale to register the difference of a single powder kernel.
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  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    There is a big disconnect between the users of digital scales for reloading and the manufacturers of digital scales.
    The construction of many of the cheaper digital scales result in a stick slip stick slip condition as a load is trickled into the pan.
    The result is the slow additions of powder with a trickler do not register accurately in small increments. This is dangerous. The only way to detect this problem is to test your scale with a trickler and a good beam scale or other known good scale such as a lab balance.

    The sellers of those cheap digital scales are depending on you not being able to sue them when you blow yourself up. Just because you used their scale for powder does not mean that is a proper use of all electronic scales. I find them good to measure a one touch item such as cartridge case or bullets. You might be able to "one touch measure powder" but you cannot trickle loads into many scales and depend on them being accurate.

    Finally many el cheapo electronic scales drift with time. You can detect this by turning on the scale in a closed area like a closet and leaving it for a few hours. I had one that drifted .8 grains in one hour. This scale required calibration before each weighing of powder. I eventually sent it back to the manufacturer and they replaced it. Elapsed time between the purchase and the return was about 8 years. The manufacturer encouraged me to send it back when I called at about the zero, 4 year and 6 year elapsed times. However their technicians admitted that such was the state of the art with cheap scales at the time. In other words I could waste 10 bucks on postage and get another new scale that would drift too. Finally at 8 years they changed the product design and I returned the old 1200 grain scale and they sent me another scale that maxed out at 900 grains. The 900 grain scale works like a hammer. It holds the calibration for long periods of time but I will never trust it for powder.

    Quote Originally Posted by GhostHawk View Post
    I have a cheap digital scale. I was having a good time with it.

    Went to work one day to load 50 rounds of 7.62x54r. Moderate load of IMR 4895. Case at start was maybe 3/4 full. I was hand weighing each charge. On about case number 38 the powder spilled over because the case was full. Weighed another charge, that one spilled too.

    Ran the calibration routine, it was 26 grains off, on the BIG side.

    Needless to say I dumped all those charges.

    Put digital away. I use it once in a while, but not often. I got the old RCBS mechanical scale out and use that. It don't screw up on me unless I bump it and shift the weight.

    Still no idea why. And no I have not bought a more expensive model.

    Looked like looking at the cases like it was adding 3-4 grains with each charge. Nice smooth bell curve. I don't like tools that I can't trust.

    Only thing I can see is that trickling that last couple of grains was taking time. Longer than that little scale liked. Never seen it do it weighing bullets or anything else.

    But I won't use it for hand weighing charges.
    Last edited by EDG; 07-28-2017 at 12:06 AM.
    EDG

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by EDG View Post
    There is a big disconnect between the users of digital scales for reloading and the manufacturers of digital scales.
    The construction of many of the cheaper digital scales result in a stick slip stick slip condition as a load is trickled into the pan.
    The result is the slow additions of powder with a trickler do not register accurately in small increments. This is dangerous. The only way to detect this problem is to test your scale with a trickler and a good beam scale or other known good scale such as a lab balance.

    The sellers of those cheap digital scales are depending on you not being able to sue them when you blow yourself up. Just because you used their scale for powder does not mean that is a proper use of all electronic scales. I find them good to measure a one touch item such as cartridge case or bullets. You might be able to "one touch measure powder" but you cannot trickle loads into many scales and depend on them being accurate.

    Finally many el cheapo electronic scales drift with time. You can detect this by turning on the scale in a closed area like a closet and leaving it for a few hours. I had one that drifted .8 grains in one hour. This scale required calibration before each weighing of powder. I eventually sent it back to the manufacturer and they replaced it. Elapsed time between the purchase and the return was about 8 years. The manufacturer encouraged me to send it back when I called at about the zero, 4 year and 6 year elapsed times. However their technicians admitted that such was the state of the art with cheap scales at the time. In other words I could waste 10 bucks on postage and get another new scale that would drift too. Finally at 8 years they changed the product design and I returned the old 1200 grain scale and they sent me another scale that maxed out at 900 grains. The 900 grain scale works like a hammer. It holds the calibration for long periods of time but I will never trust it for powder.
    I don't trickle the majority of what I load but when I do I use a 10-10 Ohaus. The cheap digital GS-1500 as stated by Hornady doesn't do it and they say the bench scale can. I have tried using it and it does seem to work but when I'm loading at the very top of the load data it gets done on the beam.
    The electronic ones have worked fine for setting powder measure up and checking every so often. Check weights are used whether digital or beam before weighing powder.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master dudel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carrier View Post
    I am not a Lee basher as I have some Lee dies and other items but I find the statement of that scale being accurate to 1/20 of a grain consistently a bit of a stretch.
    The Lee scale is accurate; but most people use it the wrong way (IMHO)

    It's perfect for verifying a weight; but it's a royal pain for actually weighing something.

    Once you verify or set the weight you want; place what you want to weight in the pan (powder, bullet what ever). The Lee will quickly tell you if it's over, spot on or under.

    It just won't tell you how much over/under it is without having to work with that painful vernier slider.

    Some problems I've seen with digital scales are:

    1) sensitivity to interference. Fluorescent lights can induce noise in the line. Doesn't affect my beam scale.
    2) warm up time. Some need some time to warm up. My beam scale uses gravity, which is always on.
    3) electronic drift. Once zeroed, some of them tend to drift. Unfortunately there's no drift indicator. Gravity remains constant.
    4) sensitivity. More expensive strain gauges are more sensitive. The old test is to cut a 1/8" square piece of paper. Put in on the scale. Does it register? If not, don't use it for trickling powder. My beam scale will register the piece of paper. My cheap digital will not; but then it does work great for counting brass.
    Last edited by dudel; 07-28-2017 at 10:36 AM.

  16. #16
    Boolit Man




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    I've been using a Lyman digital scale for about a year. Checked against included check weights and against my Ohaus 10-10 balance beam, and a bunch of j-word bullets of known weight it's been right on, occasionally a .10 grain difference, but generally very consistent weights.

    When loading ladders for load development I'll use my RCBS measure to drop a few tenths below needed weight and then use the little plastic trickler that came with the scale to come up to weight. I'll check randomly with the Ohaus and the weights have been right on.

    Most likely all of these digital scales are made by the same Chinese/Korean/other Asian company. Specs may be different as the U.S. company has contracted, but I've been well pleased with Lyman quality to this point.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by dragon813gt View Post
    Like I said, I don't sweat minimal variations. I know how accurate the measures and dispensers I use are. Plus or minus .1 grain for a pistol round isn't going to effect what I load. That variation is a rifle case w/ 50+ grains in it really won't effect anything. If I'm loading minimum or max charges then I verify each charge. Not saying anyone should do what I do. But I have enough data to feel safe w/ my reloads.
    Agree completely. +/- .1 gr is of no concern. I have not used a beam scale to produce ammunition in decades. For critical rifle loads, I use a Chargemaster.
    Don Verna

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  18. #18
    Boolit Master

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    1/10th of a grain has been the industry standard for a long time. The long range guys with their expensive scales will argue but in my opinion, the powder charge is the variable that has the least effect on accuracy.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master tazman's Avatar
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    I use a Lee and a Lyman balance beam scales for my testing. I also purchased some good check weights to confirm both scales weighed things properly(they did).
    I don't trust electronic scales. Anything that uses electricity or batteries is susceptible to variances due to voltage or current changes.
    My balance scales do a good job for me and I see no reason to change.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master

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    I have a Gem pro 250 digital on the bench and its accuracy is .02 grains. I have pains takenly loaded ammo +/- .02 range and +/- .1 grn and chronoed same day back to back The chronographs didn't show any difference in spread extreme spread or standard deviation. The tragets didt show any real difference at 200 yds either. I use several scales a RCBS 5-10 a RCBS Dial o Grain, Redding oil dampened and the gem pro. The big thing is to make sure the scale is reading what it says with a set of check weights. I set the manual scales to weight and then stack up check weights to check the scales. on the digital I weigh a stack up to be sure 411.7 grns reads 41.7 grns on the scales.

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